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Israeli Hostages Need Your Prayers

Oct 10, 2023

A man prays wearing prayer shawl and phylacteries (Shutterstock.com)

וַאֲנִ֤י ׀ בְּחַסְדְּךָ֣ בָטַחְתִּי֮ יָ֤גֵ֥ל לִבִּ֗י בִּֽישׁוּעָ֫תֶ֥ךָ אָשִׁ֥ירָה לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה כִּ֖י גָמַ֣ל עָלָֽי׃

But I trust in Your faithfulness, my heart will exult in Your deliverance. I will sing to Hashem, for He has been good to me.

va-a-NEE b'-khas-d'-KHA va-takh-TEE ya-GAYL li-BEE bee-shu-a-TE-kha a-SHEE-ra la-do-NAI KEE ga-MAL a-LAI

Psalms 13:6

In a shocking and cruel attack staged by Hamas against Israel on Saturday, more than 150 Israeli citizens of all ages, from the young to the elderly, were taken hostage. These hostages, including women and small children, are faced with a grim predicament as Hamas ominously threatens to kill them in order to force Israel into submission.

These innocent people desperately need our prayers! Please join us in prayer for their prompt and safe release.

Here are some select Psalms to recite for their quick and safe return.

Psalm 13

Psalm 13 begins with a deep sentiment of despair, reflecting the emotions that many in Israel and around the world are experiencing at this time. David, in a candid display of vulnerability, seeks answers from God, wondering why he feels forsaken and seemingly overlooked despite his steadfast devotion. God seems to be turning a blind eye to David’s afflictions.

Maintaining faith can be challenging, especially now. When enemies breach fortified boundaries, freely infiltrate peaceful communities, commit heinous acts against innocents, and take civilian hostages, it feels as if God’s comforting presence has receded. On Saturday, it felt like He had turned a blind eye as, momentarily, the enemy had “the upper hand” (verse 3).

David doesn’t linger in this melancholy, however. In this short psalm he transitions from despair to hope by its conclusion. What catalyzed this shift? Perhaps the very act of David voicing his fears and doubts was cathartic, fostering a resurgence of his faith.

Rabbi Amos Chacham suggests that it was the act of prayer itself that reminded David of God’s unwavering attention. After all, if God is not paying attention to whom are we praying? Prayer, Chacham emphasizes, possesses the transformative power to shift despair into hope.

Let us remember that God is always attuned to our prayers, even in our darkest hours, and let us pray for the swift and safe return of the hostages.

For the leader. A psalm of David.

How long, O LORD; will You ignore me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long will I have cares on my mind, grief in my heart all day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Look at me, answer me, O LORD, my God! Restore the luster to my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

lest my enemy say, “I have overcome him,” my foes exult when I totter.

But I trust in Your faithfulness, my heart will exult in Your deliverance. I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me.

Psalm 91

In contrast to Psalm 13 above, Psalm 91 begins with a strong display of trust and faith in God. The psalmist refers to the Lord as “my refuge and stronghold, my God in whom I trust.”

Among the most reassuring lines in this Psalm is verse 15, stating, “I will be with him in distress.” This sentiment emphasizes that we are never isolated in times of struggle; God stands with us through every challenge and hardship we face.

Psalm 91 reminds us that our ultimate safe space isn’t made of bricks or guarded by mortal beings; it is in the “shadow” of God, the fortress that no earthly force can penetrate. When you make God your refuge, you know that no matter what happens, you are truly never alone.

We know that God is with our brothers and sisters in captivity. We pray that He will protect them so that no harm will befall them (verse 10), that He will keep them safe (verse 14) and bring them home.

O you who dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the protection of Shaddai—

I say of the LORD, my refuge and stronghold, my God in whom I trust,

that He will save you from the fowler’s trap, from the destructive plague.

He will cover you with His pinions; you will find refuge under His wings; His fidelity is an encircling shield.

You need not fear the terror by night, or the arrow that flies by day,

the plague that stalks in the darkness, or the scourge that ravages at noon.

A thousand may fall at your left side, ten thousand at your right, but it shall not reach you.

You will see it with your eyes, you will witness the punishment of the wicked.

Because you took the LORD—my refuge, the Most High—as your haven,

no harm will befall you, no disease touch your tent.

For He will order His angels to guard you wherever you go.

They will carry you in their hands lest you hurt your foot on a stone.

You will tread on cubs and vipers; you will trample lions and asps.

“Because he is devoted to Me I will deliver him; I will keep him safe, for he knows My name.

When he calls on Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in distress; I will rescue him and make him honored;

I will let him live to a ripe old age, and show him My salvation.”

Psalm 142

David recites Psalm 142 after he is forced to run for his life and find refuge in a cave in Adullam (I Samuel 22). On his own in the cold, dark cave, as he is being chased and pursued, David lifted up his voice and poured out his heart to God. Though he was by himself, David was not alone. God was there with him listening.

It is in that context that David cried out to the Lord “save me from my pursuers, for they are too strong for me. Free me from prison, that I may praise your name” (verses 7-9). This is the same request that we have now for hostages in Gaza. O Lord, save them from their pursuers, free them from their prisons!

A maskil of David, while he was in the cave. A prayer.

I cry aloud to the LORD; I appeal to the LORD loudly for mercy.

I pour out my complaint before Him; I lay my trouble before Him

when my spirit fails within me. You know my course; they have laid a trap in the path I walk.

Look at my right and see— I have no friend; there is nowhere I can flee, no one cares about me.

So I cry to You, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, all I have in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry, for I have been brought very low; save me from my pursuers, for they are too strong for me.

Free me from prison, that I may praise Your name. The righteous shall glory in me for Your gracious dealings with me.

The following prayer is customarily read after reciting Psalms for those who are in trouble:

Our brethren, the entire Jewish People who are delivered over to trouble or captivity, whether they be on the sea or dry land, may the Omnipresent have mercy on them and bring them forth from distress to relief and from darkness to light and from subjugation to redemption now, speedily, and soon.

Related Names and Places:

Relate Bible Verses: Chapter 13, Chapter 91, Chapter 142

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